As the race for the presidentialnominee narrows, Florida haspositioned itself to be a driving force – hosting the Republican National Convention in August and even sacrificing delegate votes to push up the Florida primaries for better exposure.
Yet in the midst of presidential pomp and circumstance and the push to either defend or oust President Barack Obama, another battle may be slipping through Florida voters’ fingers – the fight for Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson’s Senate seat.
According to the Associated Press, Republican senatorialcandidates have been milling the grounds of the Republican Party of Florida’s annual meeting in search of support and attempting to reach voters who are preoccupied.
“The focus is on the presidential (nomination) until the party decides who our Republican nominee will be, but that’s going to be soon,” former Sen. GeorgeLeMieuxsaid to the AP. “Florida will decide the race. After that, starting in February, I think all eyes will turn to the Senate race. This Senate race is so important. It’s so important to take back the Senate. When they start to focus on the race, the more they learn about the candidates, the better we’re going to do.”
Florida Democrats need to divert attention from Obama’sre-election campaign and follow the Senate race as well. Ifformer state Rep. AdamHasnerwas right when he told the AP, “Bill Nelson has supported the Obamaadministration 98 percent of the time,” Obama’s followers must make sure he retains his support in the Senate.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week shows that both the senatorial and presidential races are “too close to call” for Florida voters. According to the poll, RepublicanfrontrunnerMitt Romney would steal 46 percent of the state’s support while Obama would retain 43 percent of votes.
The Senate race is even closer, with Nelson scoring 41 percent while Rep. Connie Mack leads the Republican contenders with40 percent. Yet 54 percent ofvoters said they “don’t know enough about” Mack to have an opinion.
This is after Mack raised $758,000 in the fourth quarterof his campaign, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and has$918,000 cash “on hand due to money he transferred from aprevious re-election account.” ThoughLeMieux, Nelson andHasnerhaven’t yet released their fourth-quarterfundraising numbers,Hasnerraised $535,000 in the third quarter andLeMieux’stopquarter brought in$951,000, according to The Palm Beach Post blogpostonpolitics.com.
Pushing up the primaries has placed the Senate race into the very large shadow of the presidential race, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important. Voters must make an effort to educate themselves on the platforms of their potential senator or else risk letting the decision fall into the hands of the minority – wealthy campaign donors.
Though the national race has become palpable, Florida voters must save a little energy for the race with, perhaps, the closest ties to home – their representatives in the U.S. Senate.